Monday, October 31, 2016

morelia, i'm back

I just realized this is my first trip away from Barra de Navidad in nine months. And it feels great to be on the road, again.

Admittedly, it is a tour bus trip. But, driving my car through Morelia and
Pátzcuaro (especially, Pátzcuaro) at this time of year would simply be a bad idea. I am happy to leave the motoring to our bus driver.

Today was a travel day -- from San Patricio to Morelia. About eight hours of sitting time. And with the usual stop at the base of the smoking Colima volcano. But we are now ensconced in our hotel after an adequate dinner.

I have accompanied Mex-Eco tour guides through Morelia three previous times. And I have written about them extensively. So, there is no need to bother you with facts and photographs concerning Morelia's cathedral and other fascinating colonial buildings.

That does not mean that I am not going to slip in at least two symbolic photographs.

We usually start our tour at the Baroque building that once was a Jesuit church and is now the library for the University of Michoacán de San Nicolás de Hidalgo. What the church has built, the state can seize.

It looks like a classical European library. Two floors of books encased behind glass. Even though some of the tomes look ancient, their titles belie their modern provenance.

Morelia is filled with reminders of its history as a colonial capital of the state. The churches, the government buildings, and the private homes from that era have an exquisite detail to them -- as any UNESCO-listed city should have. Take this door panel from the Las Rosas church, as an example.

But I am in Morelia as a jumping off point for our day-long visit tomorrow in Pátzcuaro to witness the Night of the Dead ceremonies. We didn't have to wait for Pátzcuaro to see Mexican tradition in action.

Morelia has its own take on this season. Most hotel lobbies display altars in one form or another. From the very modest to the grand offerings of luxury hotels. What looks like a rug is actually colored sawdust formed into patterns.

Even the government gets in on the action. The courtyard of the Department of Justice has a multiple altar affair built around an artificial lake.

What can be done inside is also reflected outside. The streets are strung with Day of the Dead banners and objects -- and young women in colonial dress stroll everywhere.

Just before we arrived in town, a rain storm dumped a good deal of rain. That would not be worth noting, other than the fact that the rain stymied the students who were constructing Day of the Dead booths, similar to last Friday's booths in San Patricio, but far more sophisticated. Dusk was setting in, and the booths were still in their conceptual stages.

 Last week in day of the living peso, I discussed the tension that has developed between the Day of the Dead traditionalists and the Halloween infiltrators. This evening, I learned a lesson -- the two holidays can co-exist peacefully. And did.

While the traditional Day of the Dead festivities swirled around us, several costumed children approached our group at dinner asking for a treat -- usually in the form of money.

This little boy started it off. When I asked his mother for her permission to photograph him, he immediately gave me this guy pose.

When I was done shooting, to his mother's embarrassment, he asked me for money. I asked, "How much?" Ten pesos was his response. I decided it was fair. He then cleverly hit us up again at dinner. After all, he is the devil.

Even though this brother and sister team were not trick or treating, I thought they summed up the odd combination of the two holidays. Her in her wide-eyed Catrina outfit. Him in his cool dude duds.

But all of this is prelude. The main event will be tomorrow.

Our visit to the cemeteries will keep us out late. The last time I did this, we got back to the hotel around 2 AM.

If I do not post tomorrow, you will know why.

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